Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Two minutes of FAME!

I am a star !!!!
Or at least I was a star for 2 minutes last week at the 
A Night With Our Stars!

West Australian authors and illustrators that had a book released in the past year were invited by the CBCA to give a 2 minute talk about their book to an audience of librarians, teachers and other interested booky people.

It's a long way for me to travel from Singapore to Perth for 2 minutes of stardom but I had a things I needed to do in Perth (e.g. a family barbeque  a catch-up with friends and some shopping) so I took the opportunity to combine business with pleasure and went along!

It was particularly enjoyable because Michael Scott Parkinson, the illustrator of  Darcy Moon and the Deep-fried Frogs, and I were able to do our first ever double-act together.

I talked for two minutes (which went rediculously fast) about Darcy Moon while Michael illustrated my words in 'real' time. I didn't get a photo of what he drew because I was too busy talking, but he had the crowd in hysterics and made me sound even more hilarious than I usually am, so thanks Michael. 

I then illustrated (after receiving a few online lessons from Michael) his newest character creation 'Norbert' while Michael spoke about his new book coming out in August 2015. 
My impression of Michael Scott-Parkinson's 'Norbert'

The event was sponsored by Fremantle Press and Westbooks and was a fantastic celebration of wonderful children's books that were born in WA this year.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

All IN! Singapore Young Writer's Festival


ALLIN! Singapore Young Writer's Media Festival took place over February 28th and March 1st of this year (2015), and it was my pleasure to speak about two very different and exciting topics.

In the morning, I ran a three hour workshop entitled Speed-pitching Basics and Preparation. 

It was an intimate and interactive workshop that covered such topics as; 
  • What is a pitch?
  • Why should I pitch?
  • When, where and to whom should I pitch?
  • How do I write a pitch?
  • How do I prepare and deliver a pitch?

No matter what age you are, if you are interested in pitching your story to editors, publishers, agents or potential buyers watch this space. I will be blogging about these topics over the next few weeks and you could get a lot of advice for free !

The festival was held at the newly opened (October 2014)  library@orchard, located in Orchard Gateway Mall in the heart of Singapore's shopping district, so I was able to have a lovely local lunch with good friends David Seow and Ken Quek between sessions.

My afternoon session was another 3 hour workshop examining the topic, How to Craft Effective Characters.

A large group of more than 20 incredibly articulate and talented upper-school children from both local and international schools attended, and we examined topics such as;

  • What makes a memorable character?
  • How to create a great character?
  • How to use point of view to make my character come alive on the page?
  • How to use dialogue to make my character come alive on the page?
  • How to use plot to make my character come alive on the page?
  • How to use setting to make my character come alive on the page?

If you are interested in learning how to make your lead and/or minor characters believable, I will be giving tips and advice on this blog over the next few weeks, so watch this space.

It was my first time attending the festival and I was struck by how many young people (13-24 year olds) had a viable work-in-progress under their belt. I was also impressed by the extraordinary writing skills these young people already possess. 

Good luck to all of you that attended. You are certainly shining bright at a very young age!

 Closetful of Books
Closetful of Books #ALLIN2015

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Reflections on 2014, the year my book got published and other random stuff happened.

2014 has been one of the most exciting, wonderful, stressful and ridiculous years EVER, for me and my family!

Perhaps the quickest way to explain is via a timeline.

Here goes...


Jeff is made redundant and his mum is several months into chemotherapy.  We take the opportunity to holiday with her in New Zealand, and take a much needed mental health break.

The holiday is fabulous and we return to Singapore energised and ready to face the year ahead.


I receive an advanced copy of Darcy Moon and the Deep-fried Frogs and a lifelong dream comes true.

I create and blog wildly and excitedly about frogs, slime, potato chips and endangered turtles.

Despite my bookish joy, I spend several days in the fetal position worrying about my family's future.


We give notice to the school, to our landlord and to our friends and families that we will be moving to Perth at the end of the school term.

Darcy Moon and the Deep-fried Frogs is released in Australia and serialised in the ED! section of the Western Australian.

Closetful of Books sign a distribution deal with Fremantle Press and Darcy Moon arrives in Singapore.

I give school talks to over 700 grade 3,4 and 5 kids at the Australian International School and hold a lunchtime launch with Freddo Frogs and cake to celebrate.


We organise packers, movers, flights etc.

Fremantle Press sell the US rights to Darcy Moon and the Deep-fried Frogs to the New York Publishing House, Starbright books.

We celebrate and throw a book launch party at the Singapore Arts House.  My daughter sings and my son makes an impromptu speech. There is a queue of people wanting a signed copy of Darcy Moon. It's dreamlike and wonderful and the culmination of years of hard work.

But it is also farewell. After 3 and a half fantastic years in Singapore, it's time say goodbye to some of my dearest friends.

The next day we fly to Perth.


We buy a car, go house hunting and reconnect with family and friends.

Jeff and I take long walks by the ocean. We are together, riding the storm. Our children are happy and Jeff's mum has responded well to chemo. These things make us happy.

Jeff lands a fantastic job... in SINGAPORE !

We tell our friends and family we are leaving. There are tears, hysterical laughter, and much wine.


Jeff starts travelling with work while I organise packers, movers, flights, short term accommodation etc.

I do radio interviews, phone interviews and write promotional articles for Darcy Moon and attend the SCBWI WA Rottnest Retreat.

Fremantle Press sell publish rights to the Turkish publishing house to Aylak Adam Publishing. My first translation deal !


We fly back to Singapore, go house hunting, negotiate tenancy agreements, open bank accounts, source a new car, adopt a bunny and reclaim our two turtles which we had to leave behind.

Jeff travels to the jungles of Papua New Guinea.


I fly back to Perth for my first ever Book Week as a published author. I have a whirlwind week of library and school visits and am honoured to present the West Australian Young Writer's Awards, where I am humbled by some seriously talented and inspiring young writers.

I return to Singapore to a problem.

We can't move into our new home as planned, because our unorthodox comings and goings have confused the moving company and a 40 foot container of our stuff is still in Perth.

After yet another night in the fetal position, I rise to organise rental furniture and self medicate with a heavy dose of household-goods-retail-therapy.

We move in to our new house three days later and use picnic cutlery for the next month.


I make my first ever book store appearance at Kinokuniya and
receive my first ever royalties payment. Wow!

Our furniture arrives and we sleep in our own beds for the first time in 5 months.

The kids have 2 weeks school holidays, Jeff takes a week off and we enjoy some down time with our first visitors, Uncle Paul and Finn.


The kids start the final school term of the year.

Thomas's team comes second in the SCC Rugby Tournament and Sian gets picked to dance a special extra part in her ballet Christmas concert.

We buy a BBQ and start to entertain in our wonderful new garden.

I download scrivener and reconnect with my work in progress (which I haven't looked at since 2013). I reconnect with my characters and it's like a reunion with long lost friends.


I reflect on the craziness of the year gone by, and can not believe Christmas is nearly here.

In summary;

To my writerly friends, I am sure you will understand the excitement and challenges my book journey has brought me this year. It's been a huge learning curve with plenty of firsts for me. I'm now looking forward to settling into the silent days of creativity yet again. My next blog I am sure, will be full of artistic angst.

As a dear friend of mine once said, 'Why doesn't life ever go in a straight line?' To my expat friends as you deal with your own dramatic twists and turns, think of this story and have a laugh. After all, you can only stay in the fetal position so long.

And finally, there were times I didn't think I would survive, but now we are on solid ground again, I will remember 2014 as one of the craziest roller coaster rides of my life.

Thank you for being a part of it.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, 16 June 2014

Rottnest Retreat 2014

It's that wonderful time of year again, when the WA SCBWI crowd pack their beanies and make their annual pilgrimage to the beautiful, salt sprayed island of Rottnest. 

The Rottnest retreat has delivered four days of creativity and fun for WA SCBWI folk since 2009, and 2014 was no different. 

There were old friends and new friends.


Chatting in the sun on our beach front balcony where we spotted a pod of dolphins and a big daddy sting-ray frolicking in the shallows. 

Creative chatter.

Workshops, guest speakers and peer critiques.

Alison Lester and Jane Godwin


Sketch and Scribble

Works-in-progress, published books, portfolios, sketches and cover art.


A wonderful happy surprise birthday celebration for our much loved Frane Lessac. 

Awards, congratulations and celebrations.

Warm hearts, big smiles, good friends.

Bike rides, long walks, star gazing and above all ...

... moon catching.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Author Blog Hop-Hoppity-Hop

Emily on the cover of her inspiring autobiography
'Finding My Voice'
I've been tagged on a blog-hop by my good friend and fellow children's author, Emily Lim

Emily is the author of many picture books including Prince Bear & Pauper Bear, A New Home for Kai Kai and Jia Jia, and her most recent creation Tibby the Tiger Bunny. She has also won many awards including the MDA first time writers award in 2007, Mediacorp Woman Award Honoree in 2013, and 3 IBBY awards in between.

Emily and I first met at the 2013 Asian Festival of Children's Content in Singapore. Emily had been selected as the first Singapore Representative to attend SCBWI WA's Rottnest Retreat, in a new exchange program with the Singapore Book Council. I had been attending the Rottnest retreat since 2010 and as I would also be there in 2013 I introduced myself and gave Emily some tips as to what to pack for the chilly wintry weather (a beanie, warm PJs etc).

While we were at Rottnest our friendship consolidated on the dance floor and strengthened further when, on our return to Singapore we formed a critique group and met for regular writerly discussions over lunch.

Read Emily's blog, Mum Mum's the Word, HERE.

Thank you for tagging me Emily.

Now it's time for me to answer the blog-hop questions.

Q1; What am I working on?

Well, my current work in progress has been put aside temporarily while I promote my new book Darcy Moon and the Deep-fried Frogs.

Who knew there would be so much to do! 

The book was released by Fremantle Press just a few weeks ago and I've been on a major learning curve on (apart from writing) what an author does. I've already done a heap of interviews via phone, email and skype and I'm now preparing for my first ever radio appearance next week - yikes!

I've also been doing school visits at the Australian International School (750 kids over 15 sessions in 5 days) and am planning a book launch at the Arts House in April. It's a free event and there will be cake, so if you live in Singapore, please do come and help me celebrate.

I've also been having fun blogging on my brand new website  Please do check it out.  It is a great place for kids to research their science homework.  And it has fun stuff too, like crazy drawings and swamp animal cartoons by Michael Scott Parkinson, so kids can research interesting facts and have a laugh at the same time.

Q2; How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Darcy Moon and the Deep-fried Frogs is fast-paced action-packed fantasy/adventure story with more than its fair share of slimy frog jokes. Its crazy characters and over the top lot plot will appeal to readers aged 7 to 12, but what makes this story different is that it also deals with some serious themes such as the impact of humans on the environment, endangered species and sustainability - albeit in a fun and friendly way.

Q3; Why do I write what I write?

As a child, the adventure, friendship and laughter I found inside the pages of a book added magic to my life. These days I write to entertain, excite and inspire children like the child reader I used to be.
And I’ve also always been drawn to nature, especially the slimy bits. When I was small, I used to love snails and earthworms. I also remember collecting dead flies from windowsills and peering at them through the school microscope. I was fascinated by their alien eyes and strange, hairy legs. I drew them in a sketchbook and labelled all their body parts.

So I suppose I was always going to write an environmental book. Darcy Moon is a culmination of my two loves. Stories ... and mud!

Q4; How does my writing process work?

I don't plan my work. It evolves. I write every day and I scribble in notebooks and I spend a good deal of my time talking to my imaginary characters. I put them in different scenarios to see what they will do, so I suppose my plot is very much driven by the characters I create.

I certainly had no idea when I started Darcy Moon and the Deep-fried Frogs how the plot would play out. I knew my main character would be an adventurous tom-boy with an affinity for nature, and I had a vague idea that the problem would be environmental. But the rest just evolved as new ideas came to me.

My writing process can be summed up by two simple quotes from E.L. Doctorow;

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing.” 

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” 

So now it’s my turn to tag 3 other authors (who will answer the same questions) as they hop on;

Dianne Touchell

I first came across Dianne when I fell in love with her hilarious and heartbreaking debut novel Creepy and Maud. I immediately looked her up and asked to be her facebook friend. She accepted and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading her entertaining posts and insightful blogs ever since. 

Read Dianne's blog, Swallows in the Eaves, HERE.

Gavin Latz

Gavin isn't exactly an author (as yet), but he is certainly a writer to watch. His blog, The World According to Garv (read it HERE), is not what you would expect from a Financial Planner. His posts cover topics from fatherhood to mortality and are insightful, laugh-out-loud funny and quite often heart-wrenching. So much so that one of his followers (who just happened to be the boss of 'Financial Writer's Australia') approached him to write for her magazine and add more 'humanness' to the industry. Fantastic!

Myra Garces-Bacsall

Myra is one of the most inspiring, intelligent and well-read women I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Myra is a clinical psychologist and coordinates the Masters and Bachelor's Program in High Ability Studies and Gifted Education at the National Institute of Education, NTU is Singapore (among other things) and her blog, Gathering Books, is dedicated to YA and children's literature.

From author/illustrator interviews, to book reviews and more, read all about it on Myra's blog HERE.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

A new blog, advanced copies and other fan-froggy-tastic stuff!

The first few weeks of 2014 have been super exciting. Firstly, an advanced copy of my first ever book, Darcy Moon and the Deep-Fried Frogs arrived in the mail. I knew it was on its way from Fremantle Press and had been checking the mail several times a day for a whole week! What a feeling when it finally arrived. One of the happiest moments of my life so far.

Over the moon with Darcy Moon

Secondly, my very clever illustrator, Michael Scott Parkinson and I launched a new blog. Check it out here.

 The blog is a place where kids can go for homework and research or just have a laugh. There will be information about endangered animals, frogs, recycling, composting and freaky food facts as well as fun stuff too, like crazy drawings and swamp animal cartoons. There’s also a really detailed page for teachers full of Darcy Moon and the deep-fried frog related classroom activity ideas which link directly to the Australian cross-curriculum priority of sustainability. Michael and I have had such fun creating the blog and hope to see you there very soon.

Thirdly (if all that wasn't enough), I was interviewed by the West Australian newspaper  and an article about me and Darcy Moon and the deep-fried frogs will be featured in the ED! Magazine section of the West Australian tomorrow (Tuesday 4th Feb).

And finally, Darcy Moon and the deep-fried frogs, will be available for purchase from 1st March 2014.


Friday, 6 December 2013

Singapore SCBWI Christmas Celebrations 2013

Singapore SCBWI 2013 Christmas Celebratory Dinner

Some of the Singapore SCBWI crowd got together last night for a Christmas dinner and a great time was had by all.
We enjoyed a sumptuous buffet at the Merchant Court Hotel, Swissotel and not only did we eat, drink and be very very merry, we also reflected on our year and celebrated our collective achievements.

We put our heads together, sharing our writerly highlights for the year and came up with the following statistics.

 2013 we managed to ;
get 12 children's books published
sign another 9 books with publishing houses ready for release in 2014
hold 10 book launches
critique each others work and make significant progress on over 50 different manuscripts
win 2 moonbeam awards
get shortlisted for the red dot award (aside neil gaiman) and the crystal kite
sign with agents, sell foreign rights, have books adapted into plays
travel to hong kong, shanghai, australia, kuala lumpur and london for various conferences, book fairs and workshops
get published in magazines
work on creative projects such as murals, canvasses and Asian content bibliographies 
hold more than 120 school talks at over 70 schools
host dinners with visiting authors Wendy Orr, Sally Rippin and Jacqueline Harvey
and attend the amazing Asian Festival of Children's Content

And these numbers don't include the other 30 members of Singapore SCBWI that were unable to attend the dinner. Some pretty impressive highlights and statistics for a group that started three years ago with a small but enthusiastic group of only five members.

Any SCBWI member will know what I mean when I say that SCBWI is a truly special organisation. Full of creative, passionate and inspiring people who welcome, encourage and support each other through the ups and downs of our creative endeavors. 

Singapore SCBWI has become like family to me. 2013 has been amazing, last night was heaps of fun  and I look forward to sharing the journey together in 2014.